Ice Network

Balletic Blackwell wins championship gold ladies

Muangkhoua channels Kerrigan, Wylie in squeaking out men's victory
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In winning the championship gold ladies title, Amanda Blackwell put her technical superiority and unparalleled artistry on full display. -Jay Adeff

While it was the pas de deux from The Nutcracker that Amanda Blackwell skated to, it was she alone who threw down the gauntlet in the championship gold ladies event at the 2014 U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships.

With equal doses of athleticism and balletic prowess, Blackwell earned the gold medal (and 36.89 points) with a perfect program that left the audience as pleased as the judges.

As the first skater in the event, the Channel Islands FSC member came gliding out to center ice with a smile as sparkling as her elegant black-and-white costume. Her smile only grew brighter as she calmly completed each element with graceful ease and precision. With lilting Axel jumps and combinations that were meted out perfectly to the iconic music, she carried the audience from the beginning of the program to the end in a flawless performance that would clearly be hard to beat -- and never was.

Blackwell's training partner and good friend, Jessica Scieszinski (All Year FSC), took the silver medal with 35.06 points, skating to music from Oz: The Great and Powerful. In a fantastic costume of emerald, red and black -- one she herself designed and executed -- Scieszinski opened with a confident Axel right in front of the judges, and she never backed down in a program that included another Axel in combination, fast spins and an accomplished step sequence.

Teresa Dentico of the Wyandotte FSC took the bronze with a powerful performance to music from The Mummy. With a big Axel, a double Salchow in sequence and an outstanding spiral sequence that was anything but mummified, Dentico unwrapped her program one element at a time to earn 34.91 points.

Newbie Muangkhoua takes a page from idols

Souvanthong Muangkhoua (ISC of Fresno) made his U.S. Adult Championships debut a memorable one, winning the championship adult gold men's event with 37.16 points. Muangkhoua topped a veteran field with an array of impressive skills performed to show-stopping choreography.

Muangkhoua, who has been competing on the local level since 2010, borrowed elements from his two favorite skaters, Olympic silver medalists Nancy Kerrigan and Paul Wylie. His program started with music from the Born on the Fourth of July soundtrack, which Kerrigan used for her 1992 free skate; switched smoothly to Miles Davis' Siesta; and ended with cuts from the score of The Untouchables, the music Wylie skated to when he won the world professional championship in 1993.

Using every inch of the ice, Muangkhoua combined big jumps with tight spins. After his Axel-loop-double Salchow combination, Muangkhoua broke into a smile that screamed, "I've got this."

Escondido FSC's Brian Kim, last year's bronze medalist, stepped up to silver with a personal-best score of 36.74. Last year's gold medalist, Tam Bui, earned the bronze (35.54 points), while perennial medalist Ken Ho of the Pittsburgh FSC took home the pewter (30.56 points).

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